Top-ranked Illinois faced adversity for the first time this season. That means a coaching opportunity for Bruce Weber the next time he puts in a game tape. "Usually it's 16-2 and...
ST. LOUIS — Top-ranked Illinois faced adversity for the first time this season. That means a coaching opportunity for Bruce Weber the next time he puts in a game tape.
“Usually it’s 16-2 and there’s nothing to watch because we’re winning so easily,” Weber said after Illinois’ 70-64 victory over Missouri last night. “It’s good to win a game and have a chance to teach.”
Luther Head scored 20 points and Deron Williams scored nine of his 19 points over the final 3:19 to help the Illini overcome foul problems, poor shooting and a second-half surge by the Tigers.
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“I’d love to win every game by 20, but that’s hard,” Williams said. “We needed to win a game like this.”
Roger Powell Jr. had 14 points and Williams added five assists in a balanced attack for Illinois (11-0), which matched its season worst for shooting at 42.3 percent but won its fifth game since moving to No. 1. The Fighting Illini have won five straight in the annual neutral-site game.
This was their closest call of the season by far after they entered the game with an average margin of victory of 22 points.
“We’ve taken some steps,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. “You look at the scoreboard and we haven’t gone far enough. I think the challenge for us is to continue to grind at it.”
Before last night, the closest any opponent had come to beating Illinois was Arkansas, which lost by 12 points. Illinois had been shooting 53 percent, the best in the nation.
Linas Kleiza had 25 points, one off his career best, for the Tigers (6-5). He was in double figures at the free-throw line for the second straight game, going 11 for 13, and added seven rebounds.
Other men’s games
At No. 2 Kansas 73, Wis.-Milwaukee 62
Keith Langford scored 21 points and Aaron Miles became the Big 12 Conference’s career assist leader as the Jayhawks (8-0) played for the first time since preseason All-America forward Wayne Simien underwent surgery on his left thumb. He is expected to be out four to six weeks.
No. 5 Wake Forest 81,
at New Mexico 64
Chris Paul had 23 points and fellow guards Justin Gray and Taron Downey added 17 and 16, respectively, for the Demon Deacons (10-1). Danny Granger had 24 points and nine rebounds for the Lobos (10-2), who shot a season-low 32.8.
At No. 7 Syracuse 88, Rice 72
Gerry McNamara had 19 points, 10 assists and a career-high nine rebounds, and Josh Pace equaled his career high with 22 points for the Orange (11-1). Michael Harris had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Owls (5-3).
At No. 8 Kentucky 92,
William & Mary 47
Chuck Hayes scored 18 points and Kelenna Azubuike added 17 for the Wildcats (8-1), who won their fourth straight.
At No. 9 Georgia Tech 90, Charleston Southern 48
Isma’il Muhammad scored 16 points and Luke Schenscher added 14 for the Yellow Jackets (8-1).
At No. 11 Connecticut 87,
Cent. Connecticut 59
Marcus Williams had a school-record 16 assists, and Josh Boone and Charlie Villaneuva each scored 20 points to lead the Huskies (6-1).
At No. 15 Texas 97,
Kenny Taylor scored 23 points and the Longhorns (8-2) tied a school record by allowing just 12 points in the first half.
At No. 18 Louisville 77,
Austin Peay 49
Taquan Dean scored 16 points and Ellis Myles had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cardinals (8-2) in the championship game of the Billy Minardi Classic.
At No. 19 Alabama 76,
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 54
Kennedy Winston had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Crimson Tide (10-1), who closed the game with a 24-4 run.
At No. 21 Mississippi St. 95, Jacksonville St. 53
Lawrence Roberts had 22 points and a season-high 20 rebounds for the Bulldogs (11-2) in their fifth straight win.
At No. 22 Cincinnati 84,
La Salle 63
James White and Eric Hicks each had 15 points for the Bearcats (9-0).
At No. 14 Boston College 65, Saint Joseph’s 41
Kathrin Ress and Jessalyn Deveny scored 15 points apiece to carry the Eagles (8-1) over the Hawks (2-9).